Tragedy and Love: The Most Tragic Figure in the Bible

Last week I wrote that God is the most tragic figure in the Bible because God never gets what God wants and God never gets what God deserves. But why is that?  Surely God has what God wants and what God deserves? And if not, why not? Why shouldn’t God have whatever God wants and whatever God deserves?  

 I think it is because what God wants and what God deserves is love, and that cannot be compelled or forced.  Love freely offered to another can be refused.  God has chosen not to compel, not to force, not to demand that we live in loving relationship with God. We choose to love God… or not and so God risks rejection. 

Christians say that God is love. Part of what we mean  is that God is a communion of love. God’s love is expressed by and rubievtrinityin the relationships within Gods very self as the Trinity. And God’s love is expressed by and in God’s relationship with us and with all of creation. This expression of God’s love makes God vulnerable.

It is a difficult thing to think about God who has the ability and power to create and sustain something as complex as the universe, and who is also willing to risk rejection by that same creation. It is a difficult thing to contemplate power and vulnerability, tragedy and love all as part of God.

Its the story of Holy Week though, isn’t it? Power and vulnerability, rejection and resurrection, tragedy and love. Taking this seriously can make Holy Week a difficult week. God is more complex than we might like.

God is the tragic figure in the Bible because God loves and to love is to risk rejection. But the good news is that tragedy and rejection are not the end of the story. The story is about love, and that never ends.

I’d like to know, what do you think?

The picture is the work of Andrei Rublev. To find out more about him and this icon,  click here and here.

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4 Responses to “Tragedy and Love: The Most Tragic Figure in the Bible”

  1. Tom Says:

    Nancy,

    Great piece … thanks. Perhaps the God of the philosophers has everything, needs nothing, impervious to all. But not so the God of the Bible, and if, as we did this morning in the Nicene Creed, affirm Jesus as “true God from true God,” then we’re dealing with a God who feels deeply, who longs for the love of His people, and grieves over the state of things – a God whose love is just that, love!

    Tom

  2. bminder26 Says:

    this is taken from elie wiesel’s writings on the holocaust, a passage from his writings that has been included for decades now in the liturgy for mourners on the most holy day in the jewish calendar.

    • Nancy Says:

      Thank you for letting me know. As I wrote in the earlier piece, I was responding to remarks by a rabbi. I don’t recall him referencing Elie Wiesel but I certainly could have missed that. Can you tell me where in Wiesel’s work I would find this? I would like to read it. Thank you.

  3. *God’s Dilemma | Conversation in Faith Weblog Says:

    […] I once hear a rabbi ask, “Who is the most tragic figure in the Bible?”  (I wrote about this ten years ago, here and here.) […]

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